Inspired by Nature

Solar Heating Systems

Solar Heating Systems

Solar Hot Water Basics

While most people are captivated by the high-tech nature of solar-electric (photovoltaic; PV) systems, in most cases, a solar hot water system will harvest more energy at a substantially lower cost. In fact, compared to PVs, solar hot water (SHW) collectors are more than three times as efficient at producing energy from the sun.

Investing in an SHW system is a smart solar solution for most homeowners. This proven and reliable technology offers long-term performance with low maintenance. And with federal, state, and utility incentives available, these systems offer a quick payback—in some cases, only four to eight years.

A thoughtfully designed SHW system could provide all, or at least a significant amount, of your household hot water needs for some portion of the year. The California Energy Commission estimates that installing an SHW system in a typical household using electric water heating can shave 60 to 70 percent off water heating costs. To get the most for your money, you´ll want a properly sized system that offers the best performance in your climate.

Solar Hot Water Types

Five main types of solar water heating systems are sold today. These five are a distillation of dozens of types sold over the past 25 years. They are:

  • Batch
  • Thermosyphon
  • Open-loop direct
  • Pressurized glycol
  • Closed-loop drainback

The proven winners are simple, reliable, and long lasting. Some systems are “open loop” (the domestic water itself is directly heated) and some are “closed loop” (a heat-transfer fluid is heated by the collector and the heat is passed on to the domestic hot water by means of a heat exchanger). Some systems are “active,” using moving parts such as pumps and valves, and others are “passive,” using no mechanical or moving parts.

There are many considerations in choosing the best system for a home, but the client and the situation will dictate the right system.

Solar Hot Water System